Public Education, Or Lack The Lack Of It?

It is a shame. It is an absolute shame that we have allowed the Public Schools, the most precious gift of human kind in the world to be virtually destroyed. We have allowed this institution which was built upon the proposition, that everybody should have an excellent education, to be destroyed!

My belief is that if the Public Schools stand for education for all...whether all choose it or not, then the Public Schools should be the best of all. If it is for all, then it should be the best of all!

Why? Because Public Schools is your last resort. When the private schools won't accept you...when the parochial schools don't have room for you...when the charter schools cannot accommodate you...WHERE ARE YOU GOING? Your going to the Public School.

I think that the deterioration of Public Schools, the deliberate deterioration of Public Schools...as a reaction to the integration of Public Schools is deplorable and a shame! And it is hurting all our children. And it is destroying TPS!

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You haven't asked the wealthy about that. The public schools are a cost in the First World, and as such they must be dismantled (note: without a replacement). They were handy when the Capitalists needed able hands at their factories, but since those factories are leaving for Third World shores, there's no longer such a need in the First World.

This doesn't mean we should just continue throwing money at a public-school system that doesn't perform (i.e. the TPS). You may as well just burn those dollars. But it DOES mean we need to replace the currently-defunct public-school system with something that DOES work, while also admitting the Capitalists will refuse to fund whatever the replacement is in the first place. We need something slightly cheaper but more effective. Those fixes are certainly achievable.

That's why we should dismantle the public schools outright and just return the tax money otherwise to the people. Free-market alternatives will arise, as they have already. A publicly-elected, state-level commission can make sure private schools meet minimum standards or they pull their operating licenses. Nothing will be lost, except the entitlement mentality extant in today's failing public schools.

I mean, just try talking with any one of these public schools teachers or other such officials. They blatantly expect to be held NOT RESPONSIBLE for the outcome of their students. All I hear is that "it's the fault of the parents". What kind of alternate reality do these people really inhabit, that they expect their jobs can't be rated for performance based upon output quality?

We must agree to identify and employ initiatives that hold the greatest promise for moving all students—including students of color, poor students, rural and urban students, and second-language learners—to high levels of achievement.

To increase the achievement levels of minority and low-income students, we need to focus on what really matters: high standards, a challenging curriculum, and good teachers.

Let me be clear. It would help if changes were made outside of schools, too: if parents spent more time with their children, if poverty didn't crush so many spirits, and if the broader culture didn't bombard young people with so many destructive messages. But because both research and experience show that what schools do matters greatly, I'll concentrate on what works in education.

Lesson 1: Standards Are Key
Historically, we have not agreed on what U.S. students should learn at each grade level—or on what kind of work is good enough. These decisions have been left to individual schools and teachers. The result is a system that, by and large, doesn't ask much of most of its students. And we don't have to go far to find that out: Ask the nearest teenager. In survey after survey, young people tell us that they are not challenged in school.
The situation is worse in high-poverty and high-minority schools. Little is expected of students in high-poverty schools—they get few assignments in a given school week or month. In high-poverty urban elementary schools, for example, we see a lot of coloring assignments, rather than writing or mathematics assignments. "Read To Kill a Mockingbird," says the 11th grade English teacher, "and when you're finished, color a poster about it." Indeed, national data make it clear that we expect so little of students in high-poverty schools that we give them A's for work that would earn a C or D anywhere else.
Clear and public standards for what students should learn at benchmark grade levels are a crucial part of solving the problem. They are a guide—for teachers, administrators, parents, and students themselves—to what knowledge and skills students must master.

Lesson 2: All Students Must Have a Challenging Curriculum
Standards won't make much of a difference, though, if they are not accompanied by a rigorous curriculum that is aligned with those standards. Yet in too many schools, some students are taught a high-level curriculum, whereas other students continue to be taught a low-level curriculum that is aligned with jobs that no longer exist.
Current patterns are clearest in high schools, where students who take more-rigorous coursework learn more and perform better on tests. Indeed, the more-rigorous courses they take, the better they do.

Lesson 3: Students Need Extra Help
Ample evidence shows that almost all students can achieve at high levels if they are taught at high levels. But equally clear is that some students require more time and more instruction. It won't do, in other words, just to throw students into a high-level course if they can't even read the textbook.

Lesson 4: Teachers Matter a Lot
If students are going to be held to high standards, they need teachers who know the subjects and know how to teach the subjects. Yet large numbers of students, especially those who are poor or are members of minority groups, are taught by teachers who do not have strong backgrounds in the subjects they teach.

*In every subject area, students in high-poverty schools are more likely than other students to be taught by teachers without even a minor in the subjects they teach.

*The differences are often greater in predominantly minority high schools. In math and science, for example, only about half the teachers in schools with 90 percent or greater minority enrollments meet even their states' minimum requirements to teach those subjects—far fewer than in predominantly white schools.

*The patterns are similar regardless of the measure of teacher qualifications—experience, certification, academic preparation, or performance on licensure tests. We take the students who most depend on their teachers for subject-matter learning and assign them teachers with the weakest academic foundations.

A decade ago, we might have said that we didn't know how much this mattered. We believed that what students learned was largely a factor of their family income or parental education, not of what schools did. But recent research has turned these assumptions upside down. What schools do matters enormously. And what matters most is good teaching.

Kids spend upwards of 85% percent of their time outside of traditional school times. Even accounting for sleep (say, at 8 hours a day, that's 33% of their total daily time), that still leaves 50% of a school-age kid's time outside of school (vs. about 12-15% inside schools). And once outside of school, you are pretty much responsible for your own learning. So much of what people learn growing up came not in school, but in being active and enriched by leading our lives. John Dewey nails it when he says "education, therefore, is a process of living, and not a preparation of future living." Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is belief that education is what is sequestered inside the walls of school, and life experience is of little value. It's embarrassing to me that the school day looks like it does ~ period after period of different classes, spuriously chosen by others to dictate to you what is important, meanwhile barely connecting to life outside the walls. Research shows that neurogenesis in certain lab animals is greatly enhanced by being in enriched environments, and we cram a bunch of people in a cinder-block room doing stuff that doesn't interest them for hours on end and wonder why they're not motivated to succeed.

I wouldn't say that a decade ago we didn't know about the importance of high-quality curriculum and standards. I mean, the National Science Education Standards, for example, were released in 1996ish. NCLB, which at its heart is about standards and assessment achievement based on those state-formulated benchmarks, is really just an extension of Clinton's reauthorization of ESEA in 1994. And A Nation at Risk, which spurred on many large-scale reform efforts, came out over twenty years ago in1983.

Bishop: I'd also like to add Lesson #4: Once a year, high-stakes testing is not a valid assessment tool for gauging student learning and achievement. We know this. Research shows this. Constant formative assessment is critical to planning proper instruction and in-time intervention and support (but costly, so why do it?). Alternative assessments also cost a lot to properly adopt, so they aren't considered on state-wide scales. Assessment drives instruction (we teach what's tested), and in an era such as this, our reward system is about doing better on those tests than focusing on learning. And those two are way different from each other.

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